Time To Fish: Stocking Of Area Waters Has Begun

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has begun stocking area streams and rivers with trout, making now a great time to fish in Rim Country.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department has begun stocking area streams and rivers with trout, making now a great time to fish in Rim Country. |

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Arizona Game and Fish report

Now is the time to fish for trout in Rim Country as the Tonto Creek Fish Hatchery began stocking area streams and rivers on Tuesday and are scheduled to continue regularly stocking Black Canyon, Canyon Creek, Christopher Creek, East Verde River, Haigler Creek, Tonto Creek, Willow Springs and Woods Canyon.

A particularly warm and dry spring has arrived, and unfortunately it followed a mild winter. What does this mean for the fishing? It means that the Arizona Game and Fish Department is stocking northern Arizona lakes and anticipates that by late May or early June, as temperatures warm up and lake levels drop, water quality will diminish and conditions will be unsuitable for stocking fish. It is a good idea to check the fishing report for up-to-date stockings.

Ashurst Lake, Lower Lake Mary, Frances Short Pond, and Kaibab Lake are local waters that have received fish from Page Springs and Tonto Creek Hatcheries, two of the fish hatcheries owned and operated by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.

“Even with the lack of winter snow, fishing should be good for trout during April and May on most of our lakes,” said Chuck Benedict, an AZGFD fish biologist. Benedict added: “People like to visit Flagstaff and Williams in the summer and want to trout fish, but in reality the bass, pike, catfish and crappie fishing are the best during the summer, now is the ideal time for trout fishing.”

Some tips to remember before heading out to fish:

License fees have changed. The new fishing license now includes trout and two-pole privileges (no separate stamps needed) and costs $37 for residents and $55 for nonresidents. The license is now valid for one year from the day you buy it, not just for the calendar year.

Anyone 10 years and older will need a fishing license. Youth licenses now only cost $5 and are available for youth ages 10-17.

Review the 2014 Arizona Fishing Regulations; they are available online or at most license dealers as a booklet that you can throw in your tackle box. The regulations have all the information you need to fish in Arizona.

Some lakes have special restrictions or regulations: catch-and-release only, daily limits, or the type of bait allowed.

Do not transport live fish or bait. Illegal stocking is a big problem and impacts the department’s efforts to manage the state’s fisheries. In some cases, fish like northern pike and bass have been illegally stocked and have had detrimental impacts to trout fishing and native fish populations.

Trout fishing in northern Arizona is better in the spring than in the summer. 

Crappie are ready to begin their spawn within the next month. Keep a sharp eye for those suspicious dark spots, generally in 10 to 15 feet of water. A lightweight jig head and a 1-inch grub tail is the preferred bait for crappie this time of year.

ROOSEVELT LAKE: Lake elevation is 2,103 feet, 48 percent full. March 22 report from James Goughnour of Rim Country Custom Rods: Good morning Rim Country anglers. Starting off this week with some good news and bad news. The good news is Roosevelt Lake rose another 1 percent this week and stands at 50 percent. It’s been exactly one year since the lake was this high. The bad news is the flows into the lake decreased dramatically last week. The Salt is flowing at only 17 percent of its normal rate for this time of year and the Tonto is barely flowing.

Roosevelt Lake was as crowded as I’ve seen it in a while last week with the spring break’s underway. In spite of the increased activity, fishing was called good especially early in the morning. The spawning progression is well underway and each week we get reports of bass being seen closer to the shallow spawning areas. Some have already spawned to be sure, but the majority are still feeding heavily in a pre-spawn and looking for a good place to make a spawning bed.

Bass were reported in 20 feet or less of water and eager to strike at any reaction-type bait. Spinner baits, Spider baits, buzz baits, and a Rico were all reported successful. Anglers who used Texas-rigged baits and drop shot techniques also caught good numbers. This is a great time to be fishing, but we all know it doesn’t last forever, so get out there and enjoy spring fishing on your favorite lake.

Crappie reports remained the same last week and was called fair by local anglers. Anglers fishing in clear water around Windy Hill reported  catching 5 to 10 crappie weighing about one pound. The crappie are ready to begin their spawn within the next month. Crappie will spawn on logs, rocks, the tires at the marina, basically anywhere that is in 10 to 15 feet of water so keep a sharp eye for those suspicious dark spots in the water. A light weight jig head and a 1-inch grub tail is the preferred bait for crappie this time of year.

You may have heard that AZGFD will be stocking Roosevelt Lake with Florida strain bass within the next two months. They also are working with several government agencies and businesses to place artificial habitat in this lake. Both of these activities are aimed at minimizing the impact of the gizzard shad that have increased dramatically over the past few years and are having a major impact on other fish species in the lake.

APACHE LAKE: The Arizona Fishing Guides sent in the following report: The lake is really starting to turn on. We have had a few trips out there over the last two weeks and have had some great numbers of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Inline spinners and jerk baits seem to be the ticket at this point.

Most of the trout lakes on the Rim are open, however, some of the roads are still closed. The trout stockings are just barely getting started. Over the next two months, trout stockings will be in full swing for all of the Rim lakes.

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